This Thanksgiving, people across the US will celebrate with friends and family, and express their gratitude for many things in their lives. If you’re a content professional, you too have reason to give thanks. Why? Because creating and distributing modern content in 2017 is a whole lot easier than it was when the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock nearly 400 years ago.
While 17th century “content” — think letters, journals, sermons, books, and manuals — may not bear much resemblance to the B2B content we produce today, it’s still content. And it was a lot harder to produce and disseminate back then.
Let’s take a look at some of the reasons why you can feel thankful you’re creating content in the modern age.
1. We’re able to create and distribute content quickly.
While Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press in 1440, the Pilgrims wouldn’t have one of their own until the 1700s. Everything was written by hand, and manually copied if necessary. Content creation was a long and laborious process. Today, most of us never write anything by hand anymore, unless it’s a Post-it note. Instead, we’re accustomed to creating content at the touch of a button, wherever we are.
Meanwhile, the Pilgrim’s letters would take months to travel back and forth to England via ship, and reading material was limited to whatever books the colonists brought with them. In today’s instantaneously digital world, even just waiting a few seconds for something to upload seems like an eternity. And not having Wi-Fi to enable instant communication can feel like a disaster.
2. We have a plethora of content formats and channels.
In the earliest colonies, messages were distributed through letters, a limited number of publications, and church sermons. And while that worked, just compare it to the wealth of communication channels and formats today’s content professionals have at their disposal. We consume content on our laptops, tablets, and phones. We listen to podcasts, watch webinars and videos, read blogs, articles and emails, and, of course, we have social media. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
3. We have facts and figures rather than gossip and hearsay.
Most people are familiar with the concept of Chinese Whispers and how facts and messages can easily be distorted as they pass through the rumor mill. Back in the Pilgrim’s time, it was incredibly hard to verify information and identify potential “fake news.” Journals published at the time presented very subjective views of the local happenings and can’t be taken too seriously today. You only have to look to the Salem Witch Trials to see the horrific impact of gossip, rumors, and false accusations.
Luckily, we now have a wealth of tools to help us separate the real from the fake, to back up our assertions, and provide us with accurate, informative statistics. Twitter can show us what’s trending, Snopes dispels untrue stories making the rounds on social media, and Google can point us in the direction of reliable sources.
We can also use tools like Google Analytics to analyze and measure the results of our content marketing efforts. By checking engagement rates, reposts, shares and likes, demographics, and much more, content professionals can make sure they’re maximizing the use of their time by creating the right content and putting it in front of the right audience, at the right time.
4. We benefit from greater diversity.
The Pilgrims were a deeply Puritanical society that ironically, given that they left England in search of religious freedom, didn’t tolerate opposition to their religious teachings and moral code. In short, you had to watch what you said. Today, we have infinitely more freedom and creativity in how and what we communicate. We have diverse voices and points of view, which leads to better, richer, more interesting content.
Apart from letters and the bible, the Pilgrims’ only reading material was the limited number of books they brought with them. In other words, they were content starved. Today, by contrast, one of modern marketers’ biggest challenges is figuring out how to make their content stand out in a world where content is literally everywhere.
Counting your modern content blessings
Content has certainly come a long way since the 17th century. Modern content comes with its own unique challenges. It has become an entire industry because it’s more plentiful, diverse, and interesting, and because you can disseminate it in so many ways. Being thankful for modern content may not be high up on your list this Thanksgiving, but it’s certainly food for thought.